…en honduras, ahuas and río blanco – life of the 99.999%…

…and the law of unintended consequences, two tales from CEPR’s The Americas Blog…

From its Alexander Main comes,

The DEA’s Disappointing Response to Members of Congress Pressing for U.S. Investigation of Ahuas Killings three snippets

Nearly 17 months ago, dozens of heavily-armed Honduran and U.S. police agents carried out a pre-dawn drug interdiction operation along the Patuca River that left two women, a teenager and a young man dead and several others injured.  There is no evidence that the dead victims or the 12 other individuals traveling on the same boat – six of whom were women and six of whom were children ranging in age from two to fourteen – had any ties to drug trafficking.  The tragic incident – which Rights Action and CEPR analyzed extensively in the report “Collateral Damage of a Drug War” – left over half a dozen orphans in its wake and deeply scarred the tightly knit indigenous community of Ahuas, where the shootings took place.


In January of this year, 58 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder expressing concern about the Ahuas killings and asking for a U.S. investigation of the incident to be carried out.  A full six months later, the DEA sent the 58 members a response which made no reference to the request for an investigation and provided a description of the DEA’s role in the incident which contains significant inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims. 

[bold added]


The fact that in their letter the DEA describes procedures to “maximize safety from all involved personnel” but makes no reference at all to any procedures designed to minimize casualties and maximize safety for bystanders suggests that no lessons have been drawn from the Ahuas incident.  The shooting incident and the subsequent treatment of the victims and the local residents that sought to provide the victims with assistance indicates that, at least in this instance, the only thing that mattered to the DEA agents was recovering the drug shipment.  Human lives appear to have been irrelevant within the context of the operation.

the substance of which  provokes questions as who are in charge of whom? Who are the subordinates? Accountable? Is this a perfunctory inquiry, or will the Congress seek to improve the image of the US by insisting on strict adherence to the rule of law, especially as it relates to a very impoverished country, and with one of the highest murder rates in the world?

And to reinforce the reality of corporate and multilateral development bank (MDB) cooperation comes this from Dan Beeton,

New Report Details Multilateral Development Bank, U.S. Role in Human Rights Abuses in Río Blanco, Honduras Couple excerpts should inspire further reading.

The report also notes that the multilateral development banks (MDBs) pressured Honduras and other Central American countries to “allow private energy investment” through structural adjustment programs in the 1990’s. But the World Bank and IDB’s role in the current conflict is not limited to the last century. After citing information from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration [PDF], the report concludes that:

Public funds facilitated by MDB’s private sector funding agencies, including the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the IDB’s International Investment Corporation, appear to be funding the Agua Zarca dam through [the Central American Mezzanine Infrastructure Fund, CAMIF], an investment fund that in reality does not respond to the safeguard policies of the MDB’s, even though it may be obligated to.

[note: that should be Inter-American, not International, Investment Corporation (IIC)]


With 22.4 percent of voting shares [PDF] in the IFC and 30 percent of the votes in the IDB, the United States wields enormous leverage over the MDBs, but unfortunately thus far the U.S. government seems uninterested in supporting human rights in Río Blanco. In fact, the report also notes that the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, seems to have signaled a green light for the recent persecution of the anti-dam activists:

The investigation that led to the charges [against Cáceres, Gómez and Molina] was launched around the same time that Honduran newspaper reports circulated on June 28, 2013 claimed that US Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, had called on the Honduran government to prosecute those who promote land occupations, stating that “the government should guarantee a functional justice system to proceed against those who encourage campesinos to invade lands.”

Yet again, corporate interests take precedence over the environment and those who inhabit it, the indigenous, voiceless mass. No need to mention the environmental and human catastrophe left untreated in a massive area of the Amazon region in Ecuador by Chevron (before, Texaco).

It seems not so long ago that major project approval criteria for some MDBs used to include: environmental, economic, financial, social, respect for human rights, criteria also espoused by government bilateral agencies such as USAID or DFID. Times do change.